Here’s the big test:
Despite everything he’s done or failed to do and irrespective of how you feel about him, will you still choose love today?
Or, will you give him what he deserves, act how you feel in the moment, and ‘cut and run’ when your emotions start to redline or you lose hope for change?
How you answer is the clearest indication of whether your life reveals the influence of Jesus. (John 13:34-35)
It’s when love is most tested that we discover the difference Jesus makes.
One afternoon, our kids were building their own indoor forts in our living room. Our older girls were furiously grabbing every conceivable blanket in the house while our youngest, Max, with his engineer-like disposition, was slower and more methodical. By the time he was ready to put his “roof” on, the blankets were gone. He looked at his sisters playing inside their forts, glanced back at his pitiful, roofless structure and started ripping off their blankets. Oh, you should have heard the screams! “Max!,” Bonnie said, “You can’t take their roofs.” Without all of the sophisticated justifications that adults have, he simply cried, “But I have to. I need them.”
Conversations like this happen all of the time in our home. They don’t argue from truth, but necessity. “I can’t help myself.” In 1 Corinthians 13:11 the apostle Paul writes, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
What are the ways of a child?
“She made me.” “He deserves it.” “I have no choice.” The response of children is tethered to stimulus–their actions are determined by what other people do and how they feel about it.
Love requires growth out of such a child-like posture of reactivity.
Here are 4 choices you can make today to grow in love:
1. Hold full responsibility for your speech and actions.
No one can pull you from the grace and love of God.
2. Distinguish the source and object of your love.
The source of our love is God, not our emotions or other people. Our reservoir knows no drought or contamination.
3. Keep the cross of Christ between you and others.
We no longer have to look to people to make everything right and repay outstanding debts. Jesus is our healer. He bears our grief and pain. He gives us the power, not just the model, of sacrificial love. (1 John 4:9-21).
4. Choose love for 21 days.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-9 each morning and pray, “God, manifest these traits in me today, especially when they’re most tested.” At the end of the day, reread the passage and pray a prayer of self-examination, “God, where were these traits most alive in me today? Where were they not?” After 21 days, you’ll see the difference!
You can find a devotional for this journey in my e-Book, “28 Days to a New Marriage.”
But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. -1 John 2: 5-6
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35